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Author Study: Haruki Murakami Curated by Ashley Tang '19

This Libguide provides a detailed analysis of Japanese author Haruki Murakami and delves into his writing accomplishments.


Murakami was inspired to begin writing at a baseball game: The Yakult Swallows against the Hiroshima Carps.

"I can still recall the exact sensation. It felt as if something had come fluttering down from the sky, and I had caught it cleanly in my hands. All I can say is that my life was drastically and permanently altered in that instant – when Dave Hilton belted that beautiful, ringing double at Jingu Stadium."

Pre-Writing Years

On January 12, 1949, Haruki Murakami was born into a Buddhist household in Kyoto, Japan. Due to his conservative background, he was forced to read in secret. The first book that he read was Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, sparking his interest in English literature and music. He became immersed in the writings of Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Truman, and numerous other famous authors. He also fell in love with English musicians such as Elvis, the Beach Boys, and the Beatles. In an interview, he believed that his taste in music was what influenced his unique writing style; rhythm, melody, and harmony play a huge role in his varied sentence structure and creates tasteful imagery throughout his writing. Upon being accepted into Waseda University, Murakami moved to Tokyo, Japan, where he married his wife Yoko Takahashi in 1971. Together, they opened up a coffee house and part time jazz bar called Peter Cat, where Murakami spent most of his time drafting stories.


Murakami began writing in 1978, after closing his cafe and directing his attention to creating stories. He published his first book Hear The Wind Sing, the first book of a three part series The Trilogy Of A Rat, immediately drawing attention from both Japanese and foreign readers. Shortly after, he was awarded the Gunbo New Writer Award, causing him to shoot to fame. Other books that received plenty of attention included Norwegian Wood (1987), The Tokyo Gas Attack and The Japanese Psyche (1995), Kafka On The Shore (2002), and 1Q84 (2011). 


Due to his early influence of American pop culture, Murakami had a unique writing style that contained themes not associated with the normal Japanese writing style, earning him more attention from foreign readers. Murakami avoids writing about his political stances in his writings, and refers to American culture frequently throughout his books. His perceived lack of a political and intellectual stance irritated well known Japanese authors such as Kenzaburo Oe and Kazuo Ishiguro. Japanese literature always contains self confessions, something that Murakami lacked in his writing.